Overcoming Washington gridlock for the greater good

  • Article by: DENISE JOHNSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 22, 2014 - 6:23 PM

Political insider Donna Brazile says the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. would have urged finding areas of agreement.

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Donna Brazile:  “We need to get off this partisanship and elect leaders who will find that common ground.”

Photo: Gerald Herbert • Associated Press file,

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Donna Brazile has experienced dozens of election battles from the inside, including being in charge of several campaigns. But even when candidates lose, she says, it’s important to work with the winner for the common good.

That cooperative spirit is in short supply these days in Washington, where defeating the other side can be more important than getting things done. But if more politicians took the wisdom of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to heart, she says, many problems could be overcome.

Brazile was in Minneapolis this week to speak at the 24th annual Martin Luther King breakfast, sponsored by the General Mills Foundation and the United Negro College Fund. The veteran Democratic political strategist and commentator worked on every presidential race between 1976 and 2000, when she became the first African-American to manage a presidential campaign. Now she has a consulting firm, writes a syndicated column, and appears regularly on CNN and ABC.

During an interview following her speech, she shared concerns about today’s negative political climate: “Dr. King would have urged us to move away from hyperpartisanship and work on areas of agreement. … We can agree that every child deserves a good start, a healthy start in life. … We might disagree on the means, but he would urge us to come together around the goals and respectfully debate those means.’’

She added that compromise and consensus have sadly become dirty words in Washington.

“We do have good public servants, but we also have those who use the politics of resentment, retaliation and revenge to fight the forces of good. We need to find the better angels within us … so we can get off this partisanship and elect leaders who will find that common ground.’’ Good advice.

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